2024 Final Legislative Report

By Dave Gessel, UHA Executive Vice President

The following is a review of some of the legislation discussed at this year's Utah State Legislature affecting hospitals and health systems.

Another Strong Legislative Session for Utah’s Hospitals and Health Systems

Money was tighter this legislative session than it has been in years, and this showed in the lack of funding for many important issues. Nevertheless, many positive things happened for Utah’s hospitals and health systems this session. We appreciate the leadership of CEO Francis Gibson and the UHA board of trustees and the many UHA members and lobbyists who all worked together to make this a positive session. UHA is grateful to work with and represent so many wonderful healthcare leaders and organizations.

2% Funding Increase in Medicaid for Hospitals and Health Systems

Funding was tighter for health programs this year and for the first time in many years the Legislature overall was not willing to fund many programs as they have in the past. They were tight on overall Medicaid funding this year, but they did include a 2% increase (nearly $18 million) in consensus new combined federal and state funding for hospitals, providers and ACOs for the coming year that hospitals and health systems should be aware of as they negotiate new contracts with ACOs. In addition, Medicaid overall generally was well funded for the upcoming fiscal year. Medicaid expansion funding remains healthy so there are no current concerns of using additional hospital assessment funds for that. There were also a number of targeted cuts and increases in Medicaid funding this year. On the one hand, the Legislature cut state funded DSH and GME funding to certain hospitals this year. On the other hand, it is likely that significant new federal GME funds will flow to Utah due to an approved Medicaid state plan amendment that will replace most of these funds. Also, with the new funding to hospitals from last year’s hospital assessment, it is likely that most of the DSH funding that was cut will not be available in future years due to the increased funding to hospitals provided by the assessment.

Medicaid Legislation

H.B. 193 – Hospital Assessment Revisions passed and will continue a smaller hospital assessment that provides funding for the Medicaid program as well as additional funding for hospital outpatient payments. This legislation also continues the law that would require Utah’s hospitals to fund up to an additional $15 million in assessment if the state Medicaid expansion fund is ever depleted. This is not likely as there is currently close to $300 million in that fund. Essentially the Legislature wanted to maintain the status quo with this legislation. There were two bills that would have had dramatic impact on the process of future Medicaid funding but neither passed. H.B. 463 – Medicaid Funding Amendments would have put in place a process of what cuts to make if there was ever a Medicaid shortfall but the bill eventually did not pass.  H.B. 340 – Health Care Reform Amendments had a similar goal through a different process but also did not pass. A bill that would have expanded Medicaid funding to cover doula services also did not pass.  S.B. 181 – Native American Health Amendments passed and requires the state of Utah to seek a Medicaid waiver to pay for services for certain Native American traditional healing practices. H.B. 501 – Health Amendments passed and provides limited Medicaid funding for state prisoners transitioning back into society.

Mental Health Funding and Legislation

The large increases in mental health funding that have occurred over the past few years have been maintained but were not really added upon. No new 23 hour receiving centers or MCOTT mental health teams were funded this year. S.B. 27 – Behavioral Health System Amendments passed and begins the process of reforming the behavioral health system in Utah.  H.B. 299 – Court-Ordered Treatment Modifications did pass but only after UHA lobbied successfully to have the language mandating the sale of the state’s mental hospital taken out of the bill. The rest of the bill expands involuntary commitments from 24 to 72 hours. Hospitals with mental health beds will want to review this bill. H.B. 71 – Behavioral Health Crisis Response Modifications passed and requires Medicaid to seek a waiver to help fund nonemergent behavioral health transports. 

Other Health Care Bills of Interest to Hospitals 

There were a number of other bills of interest to hospitals. H.B. 427 – Access To Protected Health Information passed and adds penalties if medical records are not released in a timely manner. This is a bill that your medical records department should review to make sure to avoid these penalties. H.B. 41 – Health Data Authority Amendments passed and reauthorizes the health data authority but with different appointees and duties. H.B. 236 – Sales and Use Tax Modifications passed. This bill impacts the optional 1% rural sales tax for health care. The final bill “grandfathers” in the rural hospitals that are already receiving this funding but also allows other rural counties not currently using this tax to impose this tax and use it for broader county purposes, and not just for health care services. S.B. 275 – Medical Preauthorization Amendments passed the Senate but not the House and will likely be further discussed in the legislative interim. H.B. 267 – Telemedicine Amendments also did not pass. It would have required insurance to pay a certain amount for telehealth. b did not pass.

Bills That Did Not Pass Potentially Impacting Hospitals

There were a number of bills potentially impacting hospitals that did not pass this session as UHA worked with others to stop these bills.  H.B. 305—Post Employment Restrictions Amendments did not pass. This bill would have severely restricted non-competes in healthcare and other industries. H.B. 570—Health Care Facility Amendments did not pass and would have added additional staffing and other requirements to free standing emergency departments. Also, H.B. 416 – Nonprofit Hospital Amendments did not pass and would have mandated additional reporting requirements. These bills will likely continue to be discussed in the upcoming interim legislative period.  

Many Bills Dealing with Provider Scope of Practice and Licensing This Session

There were many bills dealing with scope of practice and licensing for a wide variety of healthcare providers. Bills changing licensing or scope of practice for nurse anesthetists, optometrists and CNAs did not pass. Bills amending licensing requirements for physician assistants, pharmacists and pharmacies, podiatrists, nurse apprentices and many different mental health providers did pass. These can be reviewed on the attached list of bills. S.B 26 – Behavioral Health Licensing Amendments passed and made many changes to the licensing requirements for many levels of behavioral health providers. S.B. 207 – Pharmacy Practice Act Amendments passed and amends various provisions related to the licensing of pharmacies. H.B. 132 – Pharmacy Amendments impacts pharmacists and pharmacy interns. H.B. 58 – International Licensing Amendments passed and allows DOPL to give a limited license by endorsement for someone with substantially similar education and experience in certain professions. DOPL testified that this would likely impact only a few hundred individuals and would not require health facilities to hire individuals in this category.

UTAH HOSPAC Golf Tournament in June!

One of the best ways to support UTAH HOSPAC, our political action committee, is our 24th annual golf tournament that will be held once again at Thanksgiving Point on Monday, June 10, 2024. We encourage each hospital to provide a foursome at the tournament as that goes a long way for most hospitals in meeting their annual HOSPAC goal. Look for additional information soon on the golf tournament as well as other opportunities to contribute to UTAH HOSPAC. You can go to the UHA website to register your team now.

UHA is Here to Help and Serve

UHA is here to help you with any of your legislative questions or concerns. Please review the attached list of bills for additional information. If you need even more bill or legislative information you can go to the legislative website at www.le.state.ut.us where you can read the legislation that passed this session. If you have specific questions or concerns, please e-mail Dave Gessel at and he would be happy to help you. He and Francis Gibson would also be happy to come and brief your board or staff on the legislative session and the importance of engaging in the political process. Thank you for your support of UHA and Utah’s hospitals and health systems.